Sickert's portrait of Aubrey Beardsley was inspired by an incident which took place at the unveiling of a memorial bust of Keats in Hampstead Parish Church in July 1894.

After the service Beardsley was seen to break away and make his way across the churchyard alone. He was described as 'a slender, gaunt young man hurrying across the graveyard stumbling and lurching awkwardly. This stooping, dandified, loose-limbed, lank figure, immaculately dressed in black cutaway coat .... took off his hat to some lady who called to him, showing his tortoiseshell-coloured hair, smoothed down and plastered over his forehead in a quiff almost to his eyes. He stooped and stumbled so much that he was mistakenly judged shortsighted - in fact he was fighting for breath'. This description very closely fits Sickert's painting, down to the outlines of tombstones in the background of the picture.


Collection of A Beardsley

Back to top